Ant Financial offers SMEs free access to virtual office app

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Screenshot of Yuque’s official website. (Image credit: TechNode)

Ant Financial is offering access to its team collaboration tool Yuque to small businesses free of charge, the company said Tuesday, as much of China’s workforce remain at home to stem the spread of the deadly novel coronavirus which has immobilized the country since late January.

Why it matters:Fallout from the virus outbreak has created an unexpected opportunity for enterprise service providers to acquire new users by offering free services. Alibaba’s DingTalk, Tencent’s WeChat Work, Bytedance’s Feishu, and Huawei Cloud’s WeLink all recently began opening up communication and video conferencing features to businesses for free.

  • On Monday, the first day back to work after an extended Spring Festival holiday in China, the sheer volume of traffic generated by the hundreds of millions working from home temporarily paralyzedvideo conferencing services on major platforms.

Details:Ant Financial saidthe virtual office features on Yuque will remain free of charge to small businesses and organizations for “an extended period of time.” Yuque is a professional cloud-based platform for file-sharing, editing, and management.

  • Yuque’s virtual workspace designed for SMEs, Yuque Team (our translation), allows for 50 participants. The tool will be offered free of charge for an extended period without a cap on the number of text files and tables that can be shared between team members. Non-profit organizations also qualify for the free access, the company said.
  • Yuque Space, the virtual workspace designed for larger organizations, offers a standard three-month trial period free of charge.

Context:The enterprise team collaboration software market is boomingin China, and is one that Alibaba and its affiliate Ant Financial have been expanding in. Rival Tencent is also doing so through WeChat’s enterprise version, WeChat Work. Bytedance joined the race in April when it launchedits own enterprise messaging and productivity tool, Lark, also known as Feishu.

  • When Yuque was first introducedin December, a company spokesperson told TechNode that the tool was open to charity organizations, startups, and public educational institutions free of charge.